The robot doctor will see you now

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009

 

ATSrobotdoctor

Photo of the R-7 courtesy of InTouch Technologies

LA GRANDE Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande is a rural, 25-bed facility with no cardiologist on staff. Two years ago, a heart patient there would have had to drive three hours to Boise. But now patients can get instant, face-to-face appointments with a cardiologist without anyone driving anywhere.

Well, that’s not entirely true. The cardiologist has to drive EDGAR (“Educated Doctor-Guided Assisting Robot”) from its parking spot in the hallway to the patient’s room.

EDGAR is the keystone of Grande Ronde’s telemedicine program, which recently won the Outstanding Rural Health Organization of 2009 award from the National Rural Health Association. The robot allows specialists to consult remotely, saving patients the time and money of traveling to a larger hospital. Because of EDGAR, tiny Grande Ronde, which sees only 15 or 16 patients a day, has 16 staff members with special ICU training who beam in from St. Louis, Mo. Recently, the hospital hosted a distance-learning class on stroke care, avoiding travel costs for 30 nurses. The hospital plans to add remote dermatologists, a 24-hour pharmacy, and three-way consultation capability.

Meaghan McCamman, an NRHA manager, says rural hospitals face challenges such as recruiting and retaining qualified health-care workers. Their low patient volume and higher poverty populations also mean they have a much lower margin than urban hospitals.

Telemedicine addresses those issues, says Doug Romer, executive director of patient care services at Grande Ronde. Telemedicine attracts young health-care workers because it exposes them to expertise not usually found in rural hospitals, and it allows the hospital to recoup some costs by keeping patients on the ward.

The $45,000 wireless network necessary to make EDGAR work was paid for by St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. St. Alphonsus is the hub for remotely connected doctors and nurses at rural hospitals in Oregon and Idaho.

That money was a federal grant, so next year Grande Ronde will have to take on the approximately $4,500 it takes to run the program each month. But there’s no debate about whether to keep EDGAR, Romer says.

“Our board of trustees has recognized that technology is the future,” he says. “If we can provide the care without having to travel, that’s what we want to do.”

ADRIANNE JEFFRIES
 

More Articles

Staffing Challenge

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Greg Lambert, president of Mid Oregon Personnel Services.


Read more...

10 Innovators in Rural Health

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Telemedicine, new partnerships and real estate diversification make health care more accessible in rural Oregon.


Read more...

Wildcards

Guest Blog
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
China A SharesBY JASON NORRIS, CFA | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty in Greece and China, along with potential interest rate hikes mean investors are looking at the market and nervously questioning where they should be invested.


Read more...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


Read more...

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


Read more...

5 things to know about veterans in the workforce

The Latest
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
070215-vetsthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.


Read more...

Photo Log: Waterfront Blues Festival

The Latest
Thursday, July 09, 2015
bluesfestthumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The sweltering weather didn't keep the crowds away. Although the numbers were down slightly from last year, the Oregon Food Bank raised $850,636 to fight hunger.  About 80,000 people attended despite temperatures in the upper 90s.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS